Ginger Ackley's Music

Lark of the Clans... Celtic with a twist!

Connections - a special musical journey all about history, family and the ways we are all connected!


Music by Ginger and narrated by Donovan Ackley....  featuring beautiful original cover art by Susan J. Richards


Order from me or online for $15 at  Connections by Ginger Ackley


Tracks, Notes and Lyrics

1. Long Ago Connections      The opening song combines two older tunes in a medley to set up the story.  "Long Long Ago" was one of the first songs I learned on the piano and I remember my grandfather singing "Dem Bones" to me even before that.  I changed up the words to "Dem Bones" - but more about that later!

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear

Long, long ago, long, long ago

Sing me the songs I delighted to hear

Long, long ago, long ago


Oh, the baby's connected to the Mama

And the Mama's connected to the Papa

And they're both connected to the Grandma

And the Grandma's connected to the Grandpa

And they're all connected to each other,

And they're all part of family.


So, tell me the tales that to me were so dear

Long, long ago, long, long ago

Sing me the songs I delighted to hear

Long, long ago, long ago
Long, long ago, long ago

Long, long ago, long ago


Where do we come from? Or should the question be, when do we come from?


Either way, the answer starts with “Long, long ago... and far far away. “


Each one of us comes from a long line of folks – Moms and Dads, Grandparents – great and greater – and way back in time they all left one place to go to another. Each family has its own story to tell and it is something we all want to know about at some point or another. There were starting places all over the world and if you look around you can see that plainly on the faces you look at every day.



2. Old Country Fair      I wrote this song quite a number of years ago when I first started going to renaissance faires in Texas.  One day, when I dressed as a girl from the country, I had a real feeling of doing something an ancestor might have done, too.

There’s an old country road where my grandfather stood

And an old country flower that brightened the air

There’s an old country song that my heart has always known

And it’s calling me home to the old country fair.


When I see the sun that shines, well I know its shining there

And all the breezes that do blow also kiss its valleys rare

And that old country song that my heart has always known

It keeps calling me home,

Yes, it’s calling me home,

Oh, it’s calling me home to the old country fair.


When I turn and look behind down the path that others walked

And I see the footsteps there, hear the echoes of their talk

And the melody’s the one that my heart has always known

And it’s calling me home to the old country fair.


When I see the sun that shines, well I know its shining there

And all the breezes that do blow also kiss its valleys rare

And that old country song that my heart has always known

It keeps calling me home,

Yes, it’s calling me home,

Oh, it’s calling me home to the old country fair.


A lovely, old country fair sure does paint a happy and peaceful picture!  Back in the day, country fairs were markets where folks took their livestock and produce to sell. It was a place for merchants and crafters to market their wares – everything from simple ribbons and sewing pins to farm machinery and the latest herbal medicines! Fairs were also places where folks could meet new people, hear the news of the world, and learn new songs, too!


Those were the 'Good Old Days' that everyone talks about....


But think for a minute – if everything had been so perfect, no one would have wanted or needed to leave! As it turns out, there were lots of reasons for leaving one place to go live in another. Some folks were restless dreamers, looking for a better life over the next hill... but sometimes it wasn't their decision to go at all!


Sometimes, it wasn't safe because of the threat of war. Sometimes, there were droughts or blights that destroyed the food crops, like the Irish Potato Famine that sent over a million people to America. Sometimes, there weren't enough jobs to support a family and a lot of times, there were harsh laws or religious persecution that made folks go searching for a better place to raise a family - a land of freedom and justice and safety.


3.  Clearances      When I was writing this song, I had a picture in my head of a young mother holding her children as they stood on the deck of a ship, looking back towards the receding coastline of their native Scotland.  She wept for all the things her children would not know growing up in a new land...

How I wish they could stand in the heather

And to drink from a clear highland stream

Oh, I wish they could stand in the heather

But to them bonnie Scotland's a dream.

Though America's free with her prosperity

Caledonia's face they won't know.

From the highlands of Scotland I've traveled

Trading heather for my children to grow.


The Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries forced a lot of Scottish families to leave their homes...so that the rich land owners could use the land for different purposes like raising sheep and new kinds of crops. It wasn't unusual for entire clans and even whole villages to be forced out of their homes without much notice at all.



Many parents had to make a tough decision on whether to stay where they were or leave for new countries like America or Canada or Australia. They did what was necessary for their families to survive....but often, it broke their hearts.


4. Place Called Used To Be Home    I remember how hard it was on my family to move, even if it was just across town.  I imagine, for a young person leaving their home for a new country half way across the world,  all the times Mum said, "Shut the door!" or "Close that window" would echo in the heart as they were walking down the road...

The rain at the window looked like it was crying

And we said goodbye as the geese they were a-flying.

The little old town where we all started out.

The place called "Used To Be Home."

Oh, Mama! Oh, Papa! I still remember

The way that old door used to rub upon the eave

And I wonder, I wonder if you closed all the windows.

Did you lock all the doors when it came time to leave?


Sometimes it was the land and the crops that were a-dying

Sometimes it was a war and we couldn't live in peace

Some times there were no jobs and that's why we had to leave

The place called “Used To Be Home.”

Oh, Mama! Oh, Papa! I still remember

The way that old door used to rub upon the eave

And I wonder, I wonder if you closed all the windows.

Did you lock all the doors when it came time to leave?


We walked down the road and Papa pulled the wagon

and baby sister slept as we went towards the sea.

The wind sang a song of the journey to come

And a new place we would call Home.

Oh, Mama! Oh, Papa! I still remember

The way that old door used to rub upon the eave

And I wonder, I wonder if you closed all the windows.

Did you lock all the doors when it came time to leave?



We traveled on a ship with so many, many others,

Across the ocean wide to a place we didn't know

And we came to Ellis Island and they wrote.down all our names

In America, our new home!

Oh, Mama! Oh, Papa! I still remember

The way that old door used to rub upon the eave

And I wonder, I wonder if you closed all the windows.

Did you lock all the doors when it came time to leave?


It must have been very hard to leave everything, especially if you were a young girl or boy. While Mothers and Fathers had the hard job of making the decision to go, but they weren't the only ones leaving friends and familiar things behind.

Even though it could be a difficult time, families pushed on...hoping to build a new life for themselves and their children.... they knew the journey would be long, frightening, exhausting – but it could also be exciting and full of promise!


5.  Travelers' Tune      Our history is made up of the stories of so many people that left one place to go to another.  There were so many reasons to move and so many things to just get through and survive until you found just the right place to call "home"!  A funny thing about this song is that it woke me up one morning sounding like a good, old country fiddle tune - then the words just tumbled out!  I actually worked it out on my Ukelin and that's one of the instruments you hear on the recording!

Over mountains, over valleys,

'Cross the oceans wide and blue.

We will travel. We will travel

Till we find a home that's true!


Oh, the road goes on before us

And it seems to never end.

Billowed sails and wheels of wagons,

A new life waits around the bend.

Over mountains, over valleys,

'Cross the oceans wide and blue.

We will travel. We will travel

Till we find a home that's true!


Spring and summer, fall and winter,

Through war and faith and poverty,

To a new land we must travel

For our children to be free!

Over mountains, over valleys,

'Cross the oceans wide and blue.

We will travel. We will travel

Till we find a home that's true!


Far away from our beginning,

Moving through uncertainty.

Silent snow and rolling thunder

Are the travelers' harmony.

Over mountains, over valleys,

'Cross the oceans wide and blue.

We will travel. We will travel

Till we find a home that's true!


There are many words for people moving from one place to another: migration, emigration, relocation – but whatever you call it, one thing is certain:  traveling was not an easy thing on a family – especially back in the days before air travel and fast ships!


Did you know that sometimes it took more than 2 months to cross the Atlantic Ocean - and there were hundreds of families crowded closely together on a small ship, all following the same dream!



6.  A Child's Aire (Instrumental)      This piece of music was actually the first instrumental I wrote!  It finally found a good place on "Connections" as the transition between the Old Country and the New World.  Listen for the creaking sounds of the ship and the ocean.  See the journey through a child's eyes...


Traveling was difficult but there was always hope that the journey would bring a better life. Once you had arrived.... once you were “THERE!”... all kinds of opportunities could be open to you. America was called just that – the “Land of Opportunity” and sometimes all you needed was an open mind and a good idea you were willing to work for!


Here's an example.  You know what “blue jeans” are, I'm sure - but do you know how they began?


7.  Denim Blue    I wanted to tell a story about an emigrant who made it good here in America and I found a wonderful tale about Levi Strauss.  This young man from Germany thought he would make it big by selling things like beds and towels to the Gold Rush towns.  One day, an old miner told him that what they really needed was clothing that didn't fall apart with hard work.  That's how it all started...

Denim Blue's an American color. Denim Blue's how we work and play.

Levi wove it from the cloudless sky and the strength of the American way

And I think of all the people who lived and worked and played

Wearing Levi Strauss's Denim Blue all across the U S A!



From Germany young Levi came when he was just eighteen

And he worked with his folks in the dry goods store selling lots of really fine things

Then he heard about the gold strike at Suttter's Mill, they say,

And he knew that fortune waited for him in Californ-i-ay


It was off to San Francisco in eighteen and fifty three.

Levi Strauss brought bedding and cloth to sell for the mercantile industry.

Then one day a man came up to him and fixed him with a glance

Levi Strauss,” he said, “soft beds are fine, but you really shoulda brought pants!”

So, he worked with the canvas and he worked with the duck and a friend called Davis, too.

Till his stitching and his rivets and his little red tag turned into something new.

They were working pants for working folk, American through and through

That's the story of those new blue jeans. That's the story of Denim Blue!


And now you know where those blue jeans came from.... the great great granddaddy of the fancy designer jeans we have today were once working pants for gold miners!  What a great start Levi Strauss made for himself and his family!


Speaking of starting out... in the early days of this country, there were lots of families that lived on farms.  They grew the food that fed all the other folks in America and eventually, a lot of the world, too!


As time passed, their children were inspired by folks like Levi Strauss and were drawn away from the family farm by new opportunities in the manufacturing industries that supported all the new inventions.  There were factories that made things like cars and machinery, and many things that had previously been made by hand. These jobs sure seemed lots more exciting than baling hay or milking the old brown cow! In fact, that's what led a lot of families to give up farming and move to the city, again, to make a better life.


But you know what?  Sometimes that decision didn't always work out  on down the road...



8.  Puttin' Down Roots      It struck me as funny the way folks start out in the country and their kids complain about the "dull" life.  So, the kids move on up the the city and pretty soon, they complain about the hustle and dirty air.  Along about the time that THEY have kids, they move out of the city and into the suburbs.  But that never seems to be far enough away and as soon as they can, they - or their kids - finally realizes the ultimate dream:  Living In The Country!!!  I had some fun with this song... 

I can't wait to get off of this farm

A little city livin' won't do me no harm

That old brown cow done lost her charm

Oh, I can't wait to get off of this farm!

Country life, city life, which will it be?

Gotta do the best for you and for me

But it doesn't really matter where you park your boots

If you make it your home, that's putting down roots!


Working every day in the factory

Gotta pay the rent on Apartment B

Me and Molly and Baby makes three

Living in town's the place for me!

Country life, city life, which will it be?

Gotta do the best for you and for me

But it doesn't really matter where you park your boots

If you make it your home, that's putting down roots!


This city life's not meant for me!

I need to move my little family

Far enough away for us to breathe

Suburbia's the place for me!

Country life, city life, which will it be?

Gotta do the best for you and for me

But it doesn't really matter where you park your boots

If you make it your home, that's putting down roots!


Some nice clean air's a necessity

And a garden and a cow and some liberty

Out of the rat race is where I gotta be

Back to the country is the place for me!

Country life, city life, which will it be?

Gotta do the best for you and for me

But it doesn't really matter where you park your boots

If you make it your home, that's putting down roots!


Yep! Sometimes that's just the way things work out.


People are always trying to find the best place to live and bring up a family.  It's the reason our ancestors left far away shores to come to America and the reason our families moved from one part of the country to another – spreading out from coast to coast!  Moving and migration are a basic part of our history as a nation. 


Have you ever really thought about the word “history”?  The most important part of that word is STORY!


Sure, it can seem boring... BUT there is a surefire way to make it come alive and  really personal. 


We all have ancestors – people who came before us, like our parents, grand parents, great-grandparents and on back. 

Those folks – those relatives-- they lived in every single part of history so there has always been a part of YOU leading up to this very moment in time, where you are making your own history!  It's true!


Someone you are related to was around in World War II or was a gold miner or fought in the Civil War or was even around on the very first 4th of July!


Everything that you are today is rooted in the past, and finding out about that past helps you understand more about the here and now!


9.  Dem Connections    I really had a lot of fun with this song!  The tune is "Dem Bones" - you know:  The leg bone's connected to the foot bone and on like that...  But this CD is all about family and history connections, so it fit right in!

Oh, the baby's connected to the Mama and the Mama's connected to the Papa

And they're both connected to the Grandma and the Grandma's connected to the Grandpa

And they're all connected to each other, and they're all part of family.

Connect, connect your people

Connect, connect your places

Connect, connect your stories

And call it Genealogy!


Now, count up all your cousins, your aunts and uncles and “whats-ims”

Your great grands, steps and removes, your in-laws, out-laws, it behooves

You to know the stories that are part of your family!

Connect, connect your people

Connect, connect your places

Connect, connect your stories

And call it Genealogy!


Those old books on the high shelf have clues about your own self.

There's a thing called Generations. It's the story of all Nations.

The mystery of history gets easy when it's part of your family!

Connect, connect your people

Connect, connect your places

Connect, connect your stories

And call it Genealogy!

We call it Genealogy!


“Genealogy” is a word for finding out about family connections, about what we call your “Family Tree.” Once you start digging, you begin to wonder--- just how far back can you go? What stories are waiting to be discovered in your family's history?


Did they know someone famous - or maybe they helped make someone famous. What did they do in in times of war? You know Generals don't become important all by themselves. It takes lots of soldiers to make up an army!


Will you find heroes or horse thieves? Frankly, the stories around the horse thieves can be a lot more fun and interesting! 


See if you can you discover the reasons that made them leave one place and settle in another. What kind of work did they do?  


Where and how did they go to school?


Where were they when the big stories that made it to the history books were happening?


The best place to start learning about the story of your genealogy is with your parents or other family members. Aunts, uncles and grandparents are always full of stories about the past. Talk to the oldest members of your family while you still can.


Unfortunately, they won't always be there to ask later, so learn what you can now and you'll treasure the stories all the more for it as the years pass by.

10.  Our Annie    This is a very special song about my husband's mother.  She is a person who is very dear to me.  She has something called "dementia" that is taking her memories away little bits at a time.  I think she kind of knew this was happening because she would share stories with me when we were out riding in the car....  stories about her early days and when she got married and had kids...  The words to "Our Annie" come from those tales told in the back seat!

And she sat there, our Annie, saying, "How I remember!

How the flowers were blooming when I was a girl!

And I walked to the church with my father and mother

All the green trees were tall. All was right with the world!"

All the love's not forgotten, all smiles and the tears

All the days of our life time, all the days of our years.



And she sat there, our Annie, saying, “Once I was married.

Yes, I was a bride once and we were in love

And our mothers and fathers, they all looked so happy

And he's still here beside me and he's all I think of.

All the love's not forgotten, all smiles and the tears

All the days of our life time, all the days of our years.


And she sat there, our Annie, saying, “I had some babies

And the sweetest of babies there ever could be

I remember the story that they always wanted

I can still hear their words, “Mommy, read it to me!”

All the love's not forgotten, all smiles and the tears

All the days of our life time, all the days of our years.


And she sat there, our Annie, saying, “I used to know them.

Yes, I used to know all the people I'd see.

Ah, but some have moved on, now... others are resting

And now all of the faces, they seem strange to me.

All the love's not forgotten, all smiles and the tears

All the days of our life time, all the days of our years.


And she sat there, our Annie, saying “Sometimes my mem'ries

Are like bright shining fishes that swim through my mind

And I start to remember all the things I've forgotten,

But then time casts a net o'er the days left behind.

All the love's not forgotten, all smiles and the tears

All the days of our life time, all the days of our years.


And she sat there, our Annie and she looked out her window

And she smiled as she watched all the people walk by...


Sometimes the older members of our family can't remember all we'd like them to, but the stories of their past are still there, along with the love they feel.


It's so important to know both the history of your country AND your own family! Knowing the past can help make sense of the present and let you step into the future with your eyes wide open. Putting the stuff in history books together with the experiences of actual people connected to you will give you a real advantage. It is knowledge that can help you make better choices, like what courses to take in school, who to vote for or even help you recognize old ideas that need changing.


 

America is often called “The Melting Pot.” Why? Because our country is made up of people from so many places and cultures – and because we have continued to grow and change – even though that isn't always a comfortable or easy process.


When America was just starting out, folks wanted to be sure that they would be free, but that was kind of a hazy idea and it wasn't equally shared. They knew for sure that they didn't want the government to tell them what church to go to or to take their property so they wrote the Constitution and later the Bill of Rights.  As they learned more about Freedom and Liberty they added Amendments to guarantee liberty for groups that were being left out. That means that today, freedom applies to everyone, no matter their race or religion or gender.


America is a land that is built on differences and we are really starting to learn to celebrate that!


When you think about it – all the things that make us different ----the colors, the religions, beliefs, styles and ways of living – are making us into a big, beautiful human rainbow!



11.  Human Beans    I grew up in the days of the Civil Rights Movement.  I lived through the days of Women's Rights, too.  Today, equality for all genders is being fought for and won.  That's a long trek through history for a girl born in the South in the 1950's!    I keep hoping we are on the verge of rediscovering that we are all Human Beans and that this Earth is our Home!

Here we all are on a world that's blue and round,

Under a sun that comes up and then goes down.

Many, many colors, shapes and sizes all are we, we're

All of the things that a rainbow needs to be!

Not a spit or spot... not a jit or jot... different but we're not!

We're the Human Family!


Mary's got a Mommy and a Daddy that are blue.

Joey's Dad is green and instead of one there's two.

Sally has a polka dotted auntie who's a clown.

Harry gets to live in both the country and the town.

Dani likes to hike. David calls her "Spike" What's there not to like?

We're the Human Family!


Starting from a single root's how every family grows,

Branching out and reaching out and blooming like a rose.

Flowers in a garden that's as big as history

Colors in the rainbow that's the human family

Reds and blues and greens, peasants, kings and queens. We're the Human Beans!

We're the Human Family!


Human Beans – that's us, for sure!


We are all connected to each other in some way or another and it all happened because long, long ago, folks decided to move from one place and go to another to build a new life.


This is the story of America....


The story of the mother who misses Scotland and the child who worried the rain would come in the old windows...


The story of the people who settled this country from coast to coast...


The story of Levi Strauss and his “blue jeans” and of families migrating from the farms to the cities and back again...


The story of the older generation sharing with their kids and grand-kids...


The story of American freedom and how it grows and changes.


It's the story of how we are all Human Beans and how we learn from the past to live in the future...



12.  Come By The Hills        This is a very lovely song with lyrics by W. Gordon Smith set to an old Irish tune, "Buachaill o'n Éirne Mé" that touched my heart from the first time I heard it!  I included it on this album because the lyrics draw us in to the joys and mysteries of history and finding our roots and our human-ness in each other.

Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free.

And stand where the peaks meet the sky and the loughs meet the sea,

Where the rivers run clear and the bracken is gold in the sun;

And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done.


Come by the hills to the land where life is a song.

And stand where the birds fill the air with their joy all day long,

Where the trees sway in time and even the wind sings in tune;

And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done.


Come by the hills to the land where legend remains.

Where stories of old, fill the heart and may yet come again,

Where the past has been lost and the future is still to be won;

And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done.

And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done.

And the cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done. 

Lyrics by W. Gordon Smith copyright Beechwood Music, Ltd.


So, come by the hills and discover your own family tree and the history it represents. ....


To start, write down when you were born, then ask your family about when and where they were born and start writing down or recording your family's history. Ask older family members to tell you stories from when they were young and all about their families. Be sure to write down what they say or, even better, make a recording of it! If you can't talk to them in person, write them a letter or send them an email. 


There are genealogy apps and software programs that can help you keep track of what you discover. There might even be someone, an aunt or a cousin, who is already working on your family story! If you run into a wall, don't let it stop you. Even if someone was adopted, there are still ways to uncover the story.


The library can help you look further back, using things like the Federal Census and other historical documents including old newspapers and journals. They can also help you find books about different periods in history, often written from a young person's point of view.


Put a relative in each paragraph of that old history book and know that a part of you was there, too.


History is alive and it is Yours!


As genealogists say, Happy Hunting!